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Expats actually commented on the blog *shock*. So you know it’s one of those annoying things that everyone has a story about. As you can tell by the comments on this post on the Australians in San Francisco Facebook page.
With that in mind, I’m moving onto documenting part deux of the driving test hoops you have to jump through to legally be able to drive in this state. You’d think it’d get easier. It doesn’t.
Also, a massive thanks to everyone from the Australians in San Francisco fb page who jumped in with important tips and information. Without them I wouldn’t have been able to take the test yesterday. Thanks guys!
MAKE THE APPOINTMENT
So you’ve passed the computerised knowledge test and are ready to take the Behind-The-Wheel Driving Test. If you thought you could just make the appointment at the DMV while you’re still there, you’re wrong. Oh so woefully mistaken.
You get a little business card sending you in the direction of the DMV website to book in your appointment. It’s got a QR code and everything. You wish it was that easy though!
I logged on and went through the process. You’ll need your license number to complete it, which you can find on the learner’s permit you were given when you passed the knowledge test. It’s usually made up of a letter and seven numbers.
I tried making an appointment five times that afternoon and the next morning. Each time I was met with a message pointing to my mystery ineligibility. So instead I rang the DMV phone line.
On The Phone
I hung up and went for the real person way of doing things and I was all booked in a matter of minutes. This is a great way of doing it because you can ask exactly what you need to bring with you and any other things you’re worried about. They’re not always pleasant about answering questions though.
PREPARING FOR THE TEST
In short, get into the habit of stopping before the yield line at intersections and stop signs, don’t speed and check your blind spots religiously.
Before the test, the examiner will go through a pre-drive checklist with you to make sure your car is up to standard and you know where everything is. Take note: I momentarily hesitated on the windshield wiper/turn signal question because I sometimes get them confused since they’re backwards here.
- Driver Window
- Windshield (windscreen)
- Rear view mirrors
- Turn signals
- Brake lights
- Tires (tyres)
- Foot brake
- Emergency/parking brake
- Arm signals (left, right and stop)
- Windshield (windscreen) wipers
- Defroster (Demisters)
- Emergency Flasher (Hazard lights)
- Passenger door
- Glove box
- Seat belts
YOUR TEST CAR
What You Need
You’re going to need to bring a few things (and people) with you on the day or you won’t be able to take the test.
- Your Learner’s Permit
- The vehicle’s registration
- Proof that the vehicle is insured
- A person over the age of 18 who holds a California Driver’s license (Thanks to Phill, Monika, Scott and many others for pointing this out to me)
@krasf If you are an adult, you need an adult, 18 or older, w/ valid CA DL. If you are a minor, you need driver 25 or older with a CA DL.
— CA DMV (@CA_DMV) November 2, 2016
By law this fully licensed person must sit with you in the car while you wait to take your test.
AT THE DMV
Hand in your permit, registration and insurance at the desk and, once again, get fingerprinted. You’ll get a yellow laminated card clipped to your paperwork and then be directed to drive your car (with your licensed passenger) into the testing line.
Pin me for later!
Be warned: My appointment was for 12pm but the examiner didn’t get to me until 1pm. So you could be sitting in that line for a very long time. Make sure the person you roped into doing you this favour knows that. Shrug and say “it’s the DMV, what’d you expect?”, they will understand.
Once you pass you return to the DMV office and line up again to wait in line to be issued a fancy piece of paper that is your interim license. Your actual card copy should be mailed to you within 30 days.
However, it seems this isn’t always the case. Especially for those on E3-D Visa’s. Some have reported receiving their license within days or weeks, but there are others who went almost a full three months before getting it.
Just like expat Megan, who is still waiting for her shiny lisence to arrive in the mail:
“My husband and I did the driving test (and passed) on the same day at the start of September. He’s on an E-3, I’m on an E-3D. He got his license within 2 weeks, I’m still waiting on mine (I have a printed piece of paper that says temporary license).”
“The DMV website indicates that a temporary license is issued because the application is incomplete and pending additional information. They didn’t tell me that when they gave it to me, so I’ve no idea what is pending. I’ve tried to call them several times with no luck so I’m going to have to bite the bullet and go in soon before it expires!”
SORRY, YOU FAILED
There’s also a $7 re-test fee to pay. If you fail three times you get to go through the whole knowledge test/driving test rigmarole from the very beginning. Fingers crossed for you.